Focus on social sector in Gujarat Budget

Written by Press Trust of India | Gandhinagar | Updated: Jul 2 2014, 03:11am hrs
Anandiben PatelGujarat government presented a revenue surplus Budget of Rs 1,33,465 crore setting aside 48 per cent of plan expenditure to the social sector.
The Gujarat government today presented a revenue surplus Budget of Rs 1,33,465 crore setting aside 48 per cent of plan expenditure to the social sector.

Gujarat, whose social sector development has invited criticism, has allocated 48 per cent of its plan outlay of Rs 71,330 crore to develop health, education, women and child development as well as malnutrition.

For the first time, the state has introduced gender-based budgeting, with many of its new schemes directed at upliftment of girls and women.

"With a woman like Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel at the helm, her approach towards women empowerment, as well as development of the social sector through education, nutrition and health is rightly reflected in the modified budget estimates of 2014-15," Gujarat Finance Minister Saurabh Patel said, while presenting the budget.

The government has announced a scheme to give interest subvention at the rate of 6 per cent for three years to farmers taking loan to build godowns on the farm, while it has provided Rs 200 crore to enhance storage capacity at taluka levels and Rs 76 crore to support godowns through primary agriculture co-operative societies.

The Budget provides Rs 9,000 crore for the Narmada project after the Central government gave nod to increase the height of Sardar Sarovar Dam recently. The money will be used to increase the dam's height and build a canal network to take water to the fields of farmers.

The Budget includes a proposal to reduce taxes to the tune of Rs 422 crore. However, Rs 314 crore of proposed tax revenues, evened out the proposal to reduce tax.

The state Finance Minister has proposed to reduce passenger tax from 17.5 per cent to 7.5 per cent. With this 10 per cent reduction in passenger tax, fares of Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) would be reduced to benefit 20 lakh passengers travelling daily, though the state would incur a revenue loss of Rs 100 crore due to it.

Relief in Value Added Tax (VAT) to the tune of Rs 322 crore has been proposed, but the state budget also proposed a VAT increase on other items to the tune of Rs 200 crore, in stamp duty to the tune of Rs 34 crore and Motor Vehicle Tax to the tune of Rs 80 crore.

The state government has proposed an overall surplus Budget of Rs 453.85 crore.

The Budget has a proposal to double the grant allocated for undertaking development works in the area of MLAs, from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore.

The Budget has made a provision of Rs 22,774 crore for the education sector (including plan and non-plan) which comes to about 17 per cent of the total budget. Various new schemes have been introduced to give a new direction to primary, secondary and higher education.

The budget also gives a thrust to develop storage facilities for agricultural produce and increase storage capacity to 1.2 lakh tonnes.

Earlier, in the month of March, the Gujarat government had presented a vote-on-account due to Lok Sabha elections.

The budget also stresses skill development for youth, since it has proposed to build 19 new Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), another 26 new ITIs on demand (from industries) in four urban centres of the state, add 15,000 seats in existing government ITIs and also develop 161 Kaushalya Vardhan Kendras.

Under the gender Budget, new women oriented schemes incorporate education, health, nutrition, economic empowerment and safety for women.

The state government plans to build 26 schools and 20 hostels on the lines of the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya.

The state government has also decided to reserve 33 per cent of posts for women in the police force.